Habitat for Humanity – Making a Difference with a Hammer and a Nail

Last summer, Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County celebrated its 25th anniversary with the completion of a house – the organization’s 157th home build to date. Baldwin EMC employees Ray Bishop and Matt Rolin were part of the project, volunteering their time to install Hardie board to the home’s exterior.

“Working on a project like this, with the construction skills I use every day, was such a good feeling,” said Bishop, who works as Baldwin EMC’s facilities maintenance specialist. “There are all different types of people with all different kinds of gifts. When you have an opportunity to use your God-given talent to help someone else, it’s a wonderful thing.”

The anniversary house was actually the fourth Habitat build for Rolin, who works as a lineman for Baldwin EMC. Unlike Bishop, however, “I really had no construction experience before I started
volunteering with Habitat,” Rolin said. “These builds have taught me so much, and I look forward to working on a new house every year. Knowing that the time you’re giving is going to help a family have a nice home to live in really makes you feel good.”

While Habitat for Humanity International was launched in 1976, the Baldwin County branch didn’t form until 1992, when a group of community citizens gathered in a church and discussed how to bring the Habitat mission to lower Alabama. Since that time, in addition to the builds, the local organization has reached hundreds of families with their work through repair projects, veterans’ rehab, and financial education.

“The home construction is at the root of what we do, but our outreach doesn’t stop when we hand over the house keys to a family,” said Lindsay Avery, director of resource development for Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County. “Through programs like our financial foundations classes, we help our home buyers, and others in the community, with the skills to a stronger financial future. We want to help them reach their life goals.”

Avery said it takes approximately six months to build a home and each build relies on an average of 3,000 volunteer hours to get the job done. Habitat completed two builds in 2018 and has two more on the schedule for this spring, both in Robertsdale. The first, starting off in late March, is the annual Women Build project, which operates a little bit differently than a standard build, Avery explained.

“The Women Build is an opportunity for the community to have complete investment,” she said. “From a financial standpoint to the manpower, they can see the project through to completion.”

Unlike a standard build, which is financed through grant funding, corporate donations and individual solicitations, the Women Build relies on the fundraising efforts of its teams. “Each team has seven members (including a team leader) and we ask each team to raise $2500, collectively,” Avery explained. “The goal is to raise $100,000 for the build, and the teams then put sweat equity into the construction.”

While the Women Build provides a wonderful opportunity for women to get out there and lead the project, Avery stressed the build is not restricted to women. “Despite the name, men are always
welcome on the Women Build.”

Whether you’re interested in one of the upcoming builds, stocking shelves at the ReStore, or even baking cookies to bring to a job site, Avery said Habitat always has something for volunteers to do.

“With our builds, our programs and our ReStore, we always have a need for volunteers,” said Avery. “You don’t have to have any experience, just a willingness to help!”

Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County is headquartered in Summerdale. To find out more about Habitat, visit www.baldwinhabitat.org or follow them on Facebook. If you’d like to find out more about volunteer opportunities, contact Volunteer Coordinator Joan Kellis at 251-943-7268, or complete the online volunteer form.

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